San Jose, Portland Draw in Regular Season FinaleWondolowski ties Roy Lassiter’s MLS record for most single-season goals
by Luke James | Monday, October 29, 2012
When San Jose kicked off its last game of the regular season, the crowd at Jeld-Wen Stadium was thunderously loud, the teams were lined up in 4-4-2 formations and everyone’s focus was on Chris Wondolowski – the striker who was two goals shy of the MLS record (set by Roy Lassiter in 1996) for most goals in a single regular season.
On a rain-sodden field, early first half play was physical and relentless. San Jose dominated the Timbers and seemed unaffected by the wild noises from the crowd.
While watching the game, something resonated with me: This was soccer as I remembered it, under the leaden English skies of my childhood – fast, hard and noisy.
In the 24th minute, Quakes striker Steven Lenhart was tackled inside the box by Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. The referee pointed to the penalty spot.
Guess who stepped up to take it?
Wondolowski slotted the ball confidently inside the left post and joined the heady company of MLS legend Roy Lassiter as joint-highest MLS goal scorer in a single season.
Wondolowski commented on his record-tying goal.
“I know how hard it is, how great of a legend Roy Lassiter is,” Wondolowski said immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Network. “To share a record with him and to always be linked with him, I couldn’t be happier.”
Portland fought back, but halftime saw San Jose still ahead, 1-0.
When the second half started, it was clear Portland realized it was 45 minutes away from ending their season with a home loss. Led by defenders David Horst and Andrew Jean-Baptiste, and midfielder Sal Zizzo, the Timbers began chasing down possession, increasingly keeping San Jose from shots on goal.
That’s not to say that Wondo didn’t find himself a couple of opportunities to crack the record, though. Wondo had two back-to-back chances in the 63rd and 64th minutes with a shot and a header.
But it was Timbers striker Bright Dike who lit up the Portland fans in the 67th minute. His shot was initially parried away by Jon Busch, but Dike followed up to put the ball in the back of the net.
After three minutes of added time the game ended 1-1.
Wondo may have tied the record, but it was obvious from his unselfish, team-driven performance that his main concern throughout had been to defeat Portland. Still, an away draw and a joint MLS scoring record isn’t that bad of a way to end the season.
A final perspective on Wondolowski’s goal tally this year: He’s scored more goals on his own (27) than the whole Chivas USA team put together (24).
NEXT UP: San Jose will play either the LA Galaxy or Vancouver Whitecaps (who play each other in the knockout round) in the Western Conference Semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at Buck Shaw Stadium. The time of that match has yet to be determined.